High-speed train a must-have project: Deputy PM

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The high-speed train project is a strategic necessity and funding should not be a concern, Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung said Saturday.

"You are worried about how to fund the project, but I'm not," he told a National Assembly meeting where he answered questions from legislators.

Hung said the country's gross domestic product is US$106 billion this year but it will grow to $300 billion in 2020 and $700 billion in 2030. The figure is expected to expand to VND1.2-1.4 trillion in 2004 and then double in 2050, when the high-speed train project is scheduled for completion, he said.

The project is of "strategic" importance for Vietnam as the country aims to become an industrial nation in 2020, he said.

"The high-speed train has to be built," Hung reiterated.

The project has sparked fiery debate among Vietnamese legislators over the past few weeks, with many expressing serious concern over the project's necessity, suitability and funding.

Responding to a question about Vietnam's dependence on foreign aid for major infrastructure projects, he said the use of official development assistance has proved to be effective.

Vietnam needs to make full use of the assistance for "as long as possible", he said.

Power problem

At the meeting, several deputies complained about the ongoing electricity shortage in the country, which has caused a lot of difficulties for businesses and residents.

Hung said among the causes of the shortage are lack of investment, old and power-consuming production facilities, transmission losses, and inefficient use by consumers.

But he said the government is responsible for the problem.

"Who must take responsibility for the power shortage. The government, the Prime Minister and his cabinet members including the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and Electricity of Vietnam are directly accountable," he said.

Deputy Le Van Cuong from Thanh Hoa Province also asked if state-owned Electricity of Vietnam has been overprotected by the government.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has already censured the company and the government does not pamper it, Hung said.

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